BACK IN FIVE MINUTES.
At age nine, I was at the re-opening of the old Yankee Stadium on April 15, 1976 versus the Twins. I remember how steep the upper deck seemed and how the jewel of the Stadium's renovation -- that big "futuristic" centerfield scoreboard/screen (which was actually going to show instant replays!) -- didn't work. Dan Ford of the Twins hit a home run in the first inning. The Twins had the early lead, the Yankees came from behind and won it late. My Uncle Pat ridiculed me for peeling the cheese off his homemade sandwiches and hiding the slices under my seat.
I know I'm in the narrowest of minorities, but that 1976 opening game was the last time I was impressed by that Stadium. After attending a few hundred games there, by the time last season ended, I was more than ready to see it go. What a horrible place to see a game! Narrow rows and aisles, narrow seats (all aimed at second base), and worst of all corridors and vending areas that showed a supreme disrespect for fans. If you ventured out of your seat at that place, heading to a concession or a bathroom, you'd end up detained in dark, windowless cinderblock tunnels. Suddenly you were in Cell Block D. No fresh air, no natural light, and you couldn't see even a glimpse of the field while you served your sentence waiting for a $9 hot dog. For an open-air stadium, the place seemed to have incredibly little outdoor space.
A couple weeks ago, my wife ("S") and I went to the Friday night Yankees-Cubs exhibition game at Yankee Stadium*. It was the first baseball game played there, and it was as exciting as adulthood ever gets. The new ballpark is amazing. They did everything right. The sightlines are very good, and even in a sellout -- with everyone wearing heavy jackets -- fans don't feel packed-in like 55,000 conjoined siblings. Even though the overhanging tiers are gone (the new place opens up like a tackle box), the seats somehow feel lower, closer to the ground. But best of all: so much open space.
Behind the last row of practically every section is a handicapped-seating space and behind that... standing room. You can lean against these rails and at once be watching the game and finding food. The walkways behind the seats on every level are like plazas. You can stroll from vendor to vendor, from one concession to another, without ever losing a view of the green grass and the basepaths. And the whole time, it feels as though you're out in the open air.
Minor detail that means a lot: The outfield walls are midnight blue, matching the Yankees' caps and pinstripes. The new color makes everything look better. (Why were the walls at the old place royal blue?)
Major feature that means very little: Hard Rock Cafe. Open all year, and no view of the field. (Just like the HRC in Times Square!)
Feature that means more than you'd think: The facade/frieze that goes entirely around the structure. I shrugged my shoulders about this until I saw it. Cliché alert: It looks... majestic.
But that's not what I really wanted to write about. I didn't come here to review Yankee Stadium, as fun as that is to do.
I wanted to write about what I, personally, took away from the new ballpark that night a couple weeks ago. My first vivid memory. Like the cheese slices and the disappointing scoreboard burned in my mind from the 1976 opener, I will forever remember the April 3rd exhibition game as the night my wife and I held hands as we explored the new Stadium. The memory will be more about holding her hand than anything else.
I love being at games with S., and we've been to a lot of them together. I treasure every minute spent sitting next to her at ballgames. Camden Yards, Wrigley Field, Citizens Bank Park. We've been together since 1997, and we've had Yankees season tickets since 1999. When talking baseball, I regularly hear myself saying "S____ and I were at that game." It's important to me.
And we've seen some great ones together. A sampler:
September 10, 1999
vs. Boston Red Sox
Instead of just the two of us, this time we were a crowd: one of my future brothers-in-law, one of my future sisters-in-law, some friends of S's from work, and a handful of those others' significant others. Some of them Bosox fans. One of the best pitching performances I've ever seen, even though it went the other way. Andy Pettitte went six innings and gave up two runs. Nice enough. But Pedro, effing Pedro, was dealing. He hit the first batter he faced, Chuck Knoblauch, who immediately got himself caught stealing. In the second inning, the greatest Jamaican baseball player in MLB history, Charles Theodore "Chili" Davis hit a solo homer to right-center. Apart from those two at bats, Pedro Martinez owned the Yankees. He struck out 17. He got even better as the innings went on, fanning eight of the last 9 batters of the game. It was a complete game 1-hitter; only Knoblauch's HBP and Chili's HR foiled what might have been a perfect game for Pedro.
It was all over before 10 PM. The Red Sox, with a starting lineup of where-are-they-nows like Veras, Huskey, Buford, and Lewis, beat the Yankees 3-1.
1999 World Series
vs. Atlanta Braves
The only World Series-clinching game I've ever attended. The Yankees led by three runs for most of the game. When Roger Clemens came out of the game with two outs in the 8th, he'd given up just a run on four hits. He had gotten shelled against the Red Sox in the ALCS, so there was a lot of redemption in this effort. In my mind, it was the first time he felt like a "Yankee" to me. The strangest and most memorable moment of this night came immediately following the final out: Chad Curtis caught the fly ball that ended the game and won the World Series for the Yankees, and the players raced toward the mound to celebrate. I watched my favorite player, Paul O'Neill. He was running faster than the rest. But he never converged with the others. He was heading toward the dugout, his left hand shielding his eyes. I saw Joe Torre approach him and hug him briefly, then O'Neill bolted down the dugout steps and through the door to the clubhouse. I said to my wife (then girlfriend), "Did you see O'Neill?! He ran in. What the hell?!" We stayed at our seats watching the rest of the team celebrate on the field, near the mound. I can't remember if it was 10 minutes or 20, but after a while a message appeared on the centerfield message board reporting the death of Paul O'Neill's father early that morning.
Later, we moved down to field level for a closer look at Clemens, who was pacing the roof of the dugout and spraying fans with Champagne.
(Meanwhile, back home in my Brooklyn apartment, an engagement ring waited for our upcoming trip to Italy and my proposal in Rome.)
2000 World Series
vs. New York Mets
The first game of the first-ever Yankees-Mets Subway Series. It was a Saturday night game, and I had to work that day. Those tickets almost burned a hole in my pocket. The work was good, at least: I was shooting segments with Destiny's Child who were (in 2000) very cool, very easy-to-work with, women. Beyoncé and I got along well, and she kidded me about not taking her to the game.
The game was scoreless until the Yankees took the lead in the sixth, followed by a Mets lead in the seventh. The Yankees tied it in the 9th when O'Neill (who fouled off pitch-after-pitch before until he drew a walk) scored on a sac fly.
My wife had a short nap during the extra innings, but woke up before the Yankees won on a bases-loaded Jose Vizcaino single in the 12th.
Some wild things happened in this game. In the 4th, Todd Zeile didn't run out a foul grounder that rolled into fair territory. Scott Brosius threw him out by about 50 feet. In the 5th, Jay Payton never left the batter's box on a nubber into the dirt near home plate. Jorge Posada tagged him out where he stood. In the 6th, Zeile hit a double off the top of the left-field wall. Thinking it was a homer, Timo Perez trotted leisurely around the bases. Derek Jeter threw him out at home by about three or four steps.
I still tease S about her falling asleep for about an inning ("Who falls asleep during the extra innings of a Mets-Yankees World Series game?!"), but in her defense this was the longest game (by time) in Series history.
2001 World Series
vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
The first-ever World Series game played in November. Less than two months after the September 11th attacks, baseball was a comforting distraction. It's hard to tell, but it seemed like it meant something even to people outside of New York that there was a New York team in the Series.
When we got to the Stadium for Game 5, everyone was still talking about the previous night's game, which Jeter won with a walk-off home run in extra innings shortly after midnight. One of the guys sitting near us said, "Man, there'll never be another game like that." And then there was. We saw the Yankees shut down for eight innings. That was bad enough, but with the team losing and the final two games happening in Arizona, I knew this was the last time I'd see my favorite player in a game. O'Neill was expected to retire after the season. When the Diamondbacks made the last out in their half of the 9th, I stood up and said to S, "That's it, that was the last time we'll see O'Neill play." I was surprised when all 56,000 people stood up and chanted his name. Incredible.
Brosius came up in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on and two outs. He tied the game with a homer off the same pitcher Jeter had beaten the night before. The Yankees won it in the 12th inning with some small ball.
June 7, 2003
vs. Chicago Cubs
There was a lot of backstory for this game. The Yankees hadn't played at Wrigley Field in 65 years, since the 1938 World Series. (New York swept.) It matched up living legend Roger Clemens against Kerry Wood. Just shy of his 26th birthday, Wood was already looked upon as heir apparent to Clemens's power-K throne. He was just a rookie in 1998 when he tied Rocket's record 20 strikeouts in a game. Old guard, new guard. Teacher, student. Master, servant. It was all there. Oh, and also: Clemens was going for his career 300th win.
We had great seats, and sitting next to us was a very popular Cubs fan who took a liking to us. For much of the game, he very generously treated us to hot dogs, fries, popcorn, sodas, and beer.
In the 4th inning, Jason Giambi popped up to first, and Hee Sop Choi collided violently with Wood. The big guy was on the grass for a long time before an ambulance came to carry him off (double-click the photo).
After six-and-a-half innings, the Yanks were up 1-0. The Cubs had two hits and the Yankees just one. It was the Clemens-Wood battle I'd hoped for. Until the wheels came off in the bottom of 7th. Clemens put a couple guys on, and the Yankee relievers spent the rest of the game watching home uniforms circle the bases.
It was a memorable baseball road trip. A great city and a day game in a beautiful old ballpark, my wife and I, we were -- she was -- pregnant with twins. We'd been to the doctor that week for a check-up and he said everything looked great and "enjoy that trip to Chicago!" When we got back to our hotel after the game, S began to feel ill, so I think we skipped dinner to stay in the room and relax.
Back in New York a few days later we lost both babies to miscarriage on our third wedding anniversary.
When I look at photos from that weekend in Chicago, from a game and a trip we don't talk about anymore, I'm rocked by how young we look. We'll never thoroughly shake off the pain of that week, and the months that followed in 2003, but it was nice to see the Yankees/Cubs again all these years later, our two amazing sons comfortable at home while S and I walked hand in hand in a brand new park.
* Which many refer to as "The New Yankee Stadium." I think we should start getting used to dropping the "new."
[posted with ecto]
Here is the download and the notes for today's Pointcast.
01 I'm Gonna Do All I Can For My Lord - John Fahey (The Legend of Blind Joe Death): Blind Joe Death was a blues guitarist who recorded one 78rpm record in the 1920s. About four decades later, John Fahey hijacked the name and used it as an alter ego, confusing the living shit out of blues purists and mouth-breathing shut-ins. His 1959 debut album had only the name "Blind Joe Death" on the cover. It had no liner notes, and no information about the identity of the musician.
Most of the BJD tracks are available on compilations Fahey released in the late 1960s When you listen to him, you can tell immediately that he was doing things on guitar that nobody else ever had. It was cool to hear Matt Ward mention Fahey on the Elvis Costello TV show. Ward is an extremely talented young man and if he says Fahey's the real deal, there can be no debate. Ward's newest record, Hold Time, is sheer perfection, and I'll get some tracks on here soon.
02 Four Winds - Bright Eyes: I was about 12 months late to the party, but at some point last year I found Cassadega, and fell over for it. There is so much good writing and good playing on it. It's one of those "no one makes records like this" records.
As with anything Bright Eyes- /Saddle Creek- /Team Love-related, a typical troop of highly skilled laborers join Conor Oberst here:
Mike Mogis: guitar
Nate Walcott: organ
Dan McCarthy (Tucksy): bass
Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins): drums
Anton Patzner (Judgement Day, Two Gallants): violin
Maria Taylor (Azure Ray, Now It's Overhead): vocals
Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead): vocals
03 Change - Killing Joke: Their 1980 debut was remastered in 2005, and it sounds real good. One of the alt bonus tracks is a dub version of "Change." Today, we get the original version, straight up, and way ahead of its time. I think I give my Killing Joke records less attention than they deserve. I'll try to amend that this weekend.
04 I Know You Got Soul - Bobby Byrd: What a voice. What a hook! The version I played was a burn of the 1971 single, but it's also on an amazing comp called James Brown's Funky People (Part 2). Hard to find, but so is love and the perfect cup of coffee. How far back do Byrd and Brown go? Way back. They met as teenagers on, of all places, a baseball field where Byrd's church team was playing against a local reformatory prison team. The not-yet-Godfather of Soul was in the lineup for the latter. They shared a love for music, and soon Byrd's family made arrangements for Brown's parole.
Byrd brought so much to the table as a vocalist and arranger (and maybe the world's first hype man!), but he probably cemented his name in history in 1970 by being the "Get on up" to James Brown's "Git up-ah" on "Sex Machine."
Listening back to the recorded Pointcast, I wonder if I could have said the name "Bobby Byrd" a few more times. What do you think? Maybe two dozen utterances weren't enough for you. Duh. I'll chalk it up to being a geeked-out old man who talks about his favorite music with the unrestrained enthusiasm of a psychotic zealot. But anyway.
05 Screamin' Fist - Viletones: They are considered one of the first (if not the first) Canadian punk bands to release a record. This single came out in 1977. Here's a great clip of a Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) news report from that time, where the Nehru-jacketed reporter begins, "The latest fad in popular music is punk rock..." You know it gets good from there. Hey, check it out! Even long-disbanded groups (like the Viletones) now have official websites and myspace pages.
Their earliest singles and EPs are out of print, but most of what you need is compiled on the Taste of Honey CD.
06 Don't Ha Ha - Jürgen Wenger: Popmusik über alles! From the Pop In Germany collection on Bear Family; eight volumes of novelty, curios, and solid tracks in equal doses. This one appears on Volume 3. The series features covers of Dylan, the Supremes, Hendrix, the Box Tops, even Sabbath. There's a cool pass at the Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" (called "Der Feuerstuhl") by a group called Verrückte Mädchen (Crazy Girls). I'll get it on here for you soon.
I'm surprised more bands haven't covered this song. I wish we could have heard the Ramones or the Cramps bite into it. Would have been perfect for them. I looked around online and all I found as far as contemporary acts doing this song is a band from Berlin called Mr Ed Jumps The Gun. Those guys and Jürgen Wenger? Wow, what is it with Germans and this song? (While I give the Mr Ed guys cred for putting "Don't Ha Ha" out to a new generation, I have to add that the band's canon also include a version of "Smoke on the Water" for the Dance Dance Revolution game, and a cover of Plastic Bertrand's "Ça plane pour moi"... for a Pamela Anderson film flick. Their Wikipedia page has to be a joke.
07 Koladiola - Yello: From their fourth album, the underrated Stella. Nearly everyone knows them for "Oh, Yeah" which took off after it was used in the Ferris Bueller movie. It turned up in more movies and probably dozens of TV commercials after that. The song itself has become a Hollywood cliché, I think. Like "Bad to the Bone" or Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah." But I digress. "Koladiola" is from the same album that "Oh, Yeah" is on; it's a much better album than you, I, or our music snob friends would have thought.
08 Set Fire to the Face on Fire - The Blood Brothers: Fye-uh! Fye-uh! Fye-uh! Another band I missed altogether. I got their 2004 album Crimes but never made time to listen. Years later, they appeared on the IFC Henry Rollins Show and shredded a version of "Set Fire...." I got my act together -- got the 2006 album Young Machetes, then went and picked up all the rest of the EPs and albums before it. It's Young Machetes that I play most often, and it's a great place to start your introduction. "Set Fire to the Face on Fire" is one of the all-time greatest side-A track-1 songs. (Great line, don't miss it: "I'm kicking snowmen like it's going out of style style style!")
Dialogue excerpt from The Shield, 2004.
09 Cyanide - The Lurkers: As long as I'm dropping opinions on all-time this and all-time that, here's another. My all-time favorite overlooked band. When friends ask to hear something new, I go back to 1976-80 era Lurkers. People freak when they hear it, and wonder how it missed them. There's a great write-up of the band on the Punk77 site. This song is from their second album God's Lonely Men. It wasn't as critically acclaimed as the debut, Fulham Fallout, which is proof that most music critics aren't worth the food they're fed.
10 Under Heavy Manners - Prince Far I: From the Trojan ROOTS box set. A great song by a reggae legend. My favorite part comes near the end, when he says, "Discipline is what the world needs today... manners and et-eh-kwett." In the mid-seventies, as Jamaica neared a virtual civil war, the Jamaican Premier declared a state of emergency, and said that the country was about to experience some "heavy duty discipline." The poor and disenfranchised knew it meant the shit was going to come their way.
I haven't done the Friday 10s in a long long while, but it doesn't mean you had to stop. Set your mp3 player to "shuffle all songs" and let us know the first ten songs in your earholes.
[posted with ecto]
I've updated the posts for all the Pointcasts. The download links are available indefinitely now, via MediaFire. The entries are:
July 4, 2008: "Dry Mouth, Lip Smack and More!"
August 15, 2008: "The Second Time Usually Lasts a Little Longer, Too"
January 9, 2009: "Do Not Trust The Horse, Trojans"
March 13, 2009: "Collaborate and Listen!"
I hope you think these are getting better. The music is bulletproof for sure, so as I go on I'll work harder to be sure my voice (and what it's saying) is not the lamest part of the recordings. It's been decades since I've been on the radio and I need to shake loose the dust and rust. Hang in with me, because the music is going to get better and better and more worthy of your download-and-listening time.
I'm planning to record another this week and look to get it here on Friday. No theme, just a scalding set of songs. Hope you're back here for it at the end of the week.
A few weeks ago, SNL aired a best-of compilation episode instead of a live show. The cowbell sketch was on it. I hadn't seen that one since the first time it aired, live, years ago. I didn't "get" the funny then, and I didn't get it recently either. Am I missing something? Or maybe: Is that cowbell sketch my generation's "No soap, radio"?
[posted with ecto]
All future Pointcasts (beginning with last week's) will be mounted on MediaFire. The only real difference to you is that these programs and files can now live forever on that site. They'll be available for download at any time. (The previous service had a one-week expiration date.)
As soon as I can, I'll rewire the older ones so they'll be available again.
[posted with ecto]
On iTunes right now: Intensamente from the album Wild Teen Punk From Peru 1965 by Los Saicos
In the gym yesterday, one locker's door was dangling off the top row like a broken shutter. I think it was attached by just a couple screws in the bottom hinge. I was gathering up my gear and putting my jacket on to leave when one of the employees walked over to the broken locker. He lifted the door up and pressed it shut against the back housing of the locker units. Fixed.
Except not fixed.
I wanted to say something. I wanted to say, "Hey, man, where's your common sense? Why not use the five or six active cells in your walnut-sized dollop of ectoplasmic paté that impersonates a human brain, and think about the next poor fucker who opens that locker. With no top hinge on there, what do you reckon is going to happen? Won't that three-foot high door swing down and split open the guy's skull like a lobster tail? What the hell?! That's not fixed, you douchepacker. It's half-cocked and loaded!"
I wanted to. I didn't.
Because something happened recently. Nothing tragic, just this: My son H, who will be 5 in a few months, has picked up an unkind word from a schoolmate. "Stupid." For about a week or so, he's been trying it out at home, and getting an earful of fatherly advice every time. He understands. He gets it. It's turned into an experiment for him at this point. He and I will be having a conversation about something and he'll interrupt himself to say, "I'm going to say... 'stupid.'" He'll raise an eyebrow and look at me to note the reaction this catalyst sparks from me.
"Be careful with that word, H. Don't get into trouble...."
He'll say the word and I'll tell him again that he shouldn't call people stupid. As I said, he knows it now. I think the novelty of seeing me react so seriously to the first few times he said it ("My teacher is stupid," and a phone message to his cousin that ended, "Happy birthday, stupid") caught him off guard.
"Listen to me, H. Saying things like that is like hitting someone... with words." It's a clear lesson for what is, perhaps, the worst thing he's done. But every time I discuss it with him, I feel like a fraud. I mean, his dad is a cynical and sarcastic misanthrope with a multi-functional, 24/7 insult factory operating within his cerebrum. The black and white lessons of childhood frustrate me. I can't wait until he can comprehend nuance. Once he's old enough to understand shades of grey and the subtle variations in human comportment, I can tell him what I really want to tell him. I can look him in the eyes and say it's OK to call 'em as he sees 'em. But leave words like "stupid" to the... stupid, and tongue-strafe them with style.
Years later, he and his brother will be taking me out to walk the grounds of my "living facility," when a careless attendant hurriedly slams a door in my face. My waning lucidity will allow me to witness my life's reward: hearing H snap, "Hey knuckle-fucker, you just let the door hit my father! Did you not see us here, you swag-bellied assclown?"
* * *
And as long as I'm here, there's something else. New rule: If you want to call another human being "a cancer," you yourself must have cancer. Outside of oncologists, there is apparently no group with more practical experience spotting a cancer than the professional baseball player. Once or twice per season, some overpaid hayseed identifies a former teammate as having been "a cancer in the clubhouse." Baseball's opening day for diagnoses came earlier this week when Jonathan Papelbon biopsied former Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez, and told Esquire, "We weren't afraid to get rid of [Ramirez]. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go."
Cancer is the Adolf Hitler of cellular diseases; and it's wise not to compare anybody to either.
I can't believe the New York tabloids didn't jump at the chance for a "PAP SMEARS MANNY" headline.
The weekend starts with Friday the 13th and ends on the Ides of March. Maybe all the superstitious types will shutter up and bunker down and the rest of us can get to our work, play, or workouts more freely.
This is the first of the thematic Pointcasts and I know it's a goofy theme, but what the hell... there's some bulletproof music here. Eleven songs originating from the land of Guinness and bloodshed. Below, the link to download the Pointcast. Below that, the notes. And below all that... the link you'll click to leave your comments and opinions.
Happy St. Patrick's Day.
01 Jailbreak - Thin Lizzy (Jailbreak): If I did more of these 'casts, I'd make sure you got your recommended daily allowance of Lizzy. All their stuff is in print, easy to find and rewarding. I know I don't need to detail the rise and fall of Phil Lynott, as we all know the story (or if not, can easily look it up). I have played the Jailbreak album so many times I can’t even give you a ballpark figure. Back in the span of time that I moved into eight new addresses in five years, I christened each new place with a full listen of Jailbreak. I have taken this album with me on trips and expeditions in some form since the late '80s. I would even play it first thing upon returning as I unpacked. It became a well-worn ritual, a comfort.
02 The Jug of Punch - The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem (The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem)
03 Snow - JJ72 (JJ72): Bonus fun - make up some clever possible meaning behind the band's name. I'll go first: Former New York Ranger Jaromír Jágr? Born in 1972!
04 The Sun Beats Down - The High Llamas (Cold and Bouncy): Diehard Brian Wilson/Pet Sounds/SMiLE fanpeople get pretty uppity when you suggest (simply suggest) head Llama Sean O'Hagan might presently be carrying the BW/PS/S baton. Sheesh!
05 Mandinka - Sinéad O'Connor (The Lion and the Cobra): It seemed that every single one of my friends went apeshit for this album. (And me too.) I was the host of a local cable program at the time (but who wasn't?... stop yawning!), and Lion and the Cobra took over that studio like an infection. Eighty-five percent of that production crew was "in possession."
I know I say this about a lot of records, but it's true again... when this came out near the end of 1987, it sounded like nothing else. And yet, it just fit. I'm not even going to write anything about ex-Ant Marco Pirroni's guitar sound.
06 Looking After No. 1 - The Boomtown Rats (The Boomtown Rats): I hope you're listening to the recording before you read these notes, because when you get to this paragraph and read who it is, you might get yourself all rankled. Yes - the Boomtown Rats. The sonic leaping-off point for Sir Bob and whatever that name evokes in your mind. But 1977-79 era Boomtown Rats was a factory of edgy pop melodies and twisted guitar lines.
07 Sueisfine - My Bloody Valentine (Isn't Anything): From their debut album. I don't play it all that often but when the mood hits, it's perfect. I've been to see them play a few times, but could never identify many of the songs through the layers of noise.
08 Funky Céili (Bridie's Song) - Black 47 (Fire of Freedom): "I'm two months late / It's not with the rent." Chose the upbeat number instead of tracks I like better. "40 Shades of Blue" and "New York, NY 10009" are heftier songs. Next time, I won't be a-scared; I'll give you what you're here for.
Before Black 47 was even a glint in frontman Larry Kirwan's eye, he was a member of New York City's Major Thinkers with friend and fellow Wexford émigré Pierce Turner. They had a song called "Avenue B" that had a real cool sound but was, unfortunately, one of those songs you'd hear on left-of-the-dial radio stations only about once every four months. I was pretty happy the day I finally bought the six-song 12". I finally had "Avenue B," AND I ended up liking the rest of the tracks, too. It's way out of print of course. As you can see, prices for that 12" are all over the map. It looks like sellers are actually charging premium prices ($35+) for homemade CDRs of it. Just check back here; I'll get all six songs up here as soon as I can and you can download / burn your own. In the meantime, the Major Thinkers myspace page has tracks to hear.
09 Sally MacLennane - The Pogues (Rum, Sodomy & the Lash) / Dirty Old Town - Shane MacGowan (from The Henry Rollins Show [IFC]): All the great Pogues stories to be told begin "We got there at 8:30 for a nine o'clock show, and then the band didn't go on until...." All the worst Pogues stories start that way, too. Shane MacGowan is a troubled genius poet and the inelegant rest of us will suffer gladly his wayward manners, because he's the real deal. You've heard the phrase "been there, done that." Shane's been there, done that, intoxicated, and bleeding profusely. If you don't own Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, I recommend you amend the heresy at once.
10 Roddy McCorley - The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem (The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem): I'm reluctant to write anything here about artists like these, about whom many other people could take me to school. What can I say here that's not just dipping a toe into the ocean? I bought a great three-disk box set in London years ago, on the Tradition label, and it has everything I can manage to get my head around for now.
11 N17 - Saw Doctors (If This is Rock and Roll, I Want My Old Job Back or Sing a Powerful Song): I haven't been to a Saw Doctors show in a couple years, and I can feel the hole in my life it's caused. I haven't kept up with their releases since Villains (2001), so my knowledge of the band had gotten a bit dusty, but I can tell you that the entire SD catalog up to that point could provide enough energy to fuel seven throat-shredding encores.
On the Pointcast, I forgot to mention that some of the artists I played are currently on tour. A few are in the NYC area this week. Here's some of that info:
Black 47 is at Toad's Place in New Haven, CT tonight; in Boston March 15 & 16; and at B.B. King's in New York on the 17th.
The Saw Doctors are one of the 5-10 best live acts I've ever seen, and (lucky us) they're at The Nokia Theatre Times Square tonight and tomorrow.
The Pogues are at Roseland Ballroom here tonight and tomorrow, and in D.C. at the 9:30 Club March 16-18.
Thin Lizzy have just released a hot-snot live CD, Still Dangerous, and announced a few European dates for later this year opening for some band called Metallica.
More Sticking Point / music-related goods and chattel:
[posted with ecto]
Now that Junior's back with the Mariners, aren't we all hoping it means a long-awaited creative reunion with Kid Sensation? It's been 16 years since Power of Rhyme came out. Bring it, Seatown!
Griffey's got a nice flow on the mic, but he sounds like he's holding a toothpick in his mouth. Here's just a little bit of a taste of the bass for you.
[posted with ecto]
On iTunes right now: Barbra from the album Teen City E.P. 12" by Modernettes
"What the fuck?!"
Here's the heart of the matter...
Freedom of expression is a powerful American right. But our freedom of choice wields every bit as much heft. The current economy is too porous, too fragile to put money in this guy's cash register while on every New York City block is a bakery/coffee shop without overtly racist management and inventory. This pus-oozing, putrescent man-mountain of clotted cream and human waste can be put out of business before Mother's Day '09. Freedom of choice has an amazing way of regulating the right and the dead wrong.
I'm a white guy, I don't deny that. In fact, I'm pretty up-front about it. When a co-worker IMs to say we'll meet for lunch in 15 minutes, I type "Okie dokie." And when the double-protein smoothie costs four dollars and twenty-six cents, I put down a five and then say, "Wait, I have a penny." I'm embarrassed to tell you that when the customer in that story says the baker told her Obama's "following in the same path of Abraham Lincoln; he will get his," it went right over my head. Missed the point completely. I watched the clip a second time before I realized what not even the reporter wants to give voice to: the baker affirms Obama will be assassinated.
Tough first week, Mr. President, huh? The guy who held the job before you left with blood on his hands and the scent of our money in his farts, and not a whisper was heard about even, say... indictments. No one told him, "Hey, don't leave town." Instead, he got a free flight to Texas and a victor's welcome in Waco.
But I digress. (And with a project deadline looming at 1800 hours, I can't fucking digress.)
Progressive, liberal, non-racist, fair, honest, decent people like you and me and the children we raise were in the passenger seat for too long. Now we have a chance to drive this thing. We can't nod off at the wheel.
I should say it more: Thanks for coming here and reading this stuff I write. I appreciate all your comments and emails. Have a good weekend. Take care.
[posted with ecto]
From Sticking Point pal Tim:
Subject: "When you talk about Ron Asheton show some respect!!"
Date: January 21, 2009 09:08:59 EST
Loved the new Pointcast. Finally got a chance to hear it this AM. One thing-- you left me hanging with your Scruffy The Cat story. Did you buy your stolen tapes back or did you punch the dude in the neck?
Aw, damn, Tim. You won't like hearing that I did very little retribution-wise. (OK... nothing.) I had a hunch the guy selling all this stuff from his blanket wasn't the thief who smashed my car window and took my things.
I was never a cassette buyer, so except for five or six store-bought tapes, all the rest were homemade (dupes, mixes, bootlegs, etc.) I bought back as much of the guy's "inventory" as I could. The comedy routine occurred when I argued to convince him it was MY HANDWRITING on all these tracklists.
* * * * *
I've been putting together playlists for some thematic Pointcasts I want to record this year. Keeping the sonic jihad portion of those things to just five songs is restrictive, so I may stop doing the random Friday 5ive. I don't know if hearing my random tracks is worth anything, and there's so much more I can get to you without them. In the coming weeks and months I'll post an "alternate versions" Pointcast, and another comprised of very hard-to-find and rarely heard tracks. I could do a covers 'cast, pairing each cover with its original version. (Tim -- a self-confessed covers fiend -- should dig it.) That one is already looking good; sometimes the original is the more well-known, sometimes the remake.
Last night, I was paring down the playlist for something pretty cool: a Pointcast of songs sampled by the Beastie Boys. When I got my hands on "Loose Booty" by Willie Henderson, I knew I had to do this one.
I really enjoy recording these things and getting the music onto your hard drives. I'll do them every time I have the hunk of hours they require, whether or not I get many comments or email responses from you. But lurkers and silent ungratefuls, I'm warning you: If your taciturnity and lack of participation continue, one of these Pointcasts will be the Trojan Horse that furtively unleashes 558 megabytes of unmitigated Gipsy Kings (or a Nickelback tribute band) onto your iPod.
* * * * *
I had to replace the earphones I wear at the gym again. The set I wear when I'm training always takes a beating. I'm the guy who gets ear-snagged three times an hour when my wire gets caught on a barbell or the water fountain. Because of this, I look for passable sound quality and a fairly rugged in-ear design. And I won't pay more than $25.
I tried a different model (again) this time, and ended up with the third-best earphones I've ever had. Numbers 1 and 2 are the sets I wear when I'm really listening, not "gym listening." These new ones were a couple hundred dollars less and are a close third place. So I'm telling you about them.
Sennheiser CX300 Earbuds. Bass response, sound separation -- great. Very comfortable, and they stay put even under sweaty gym conditions. Definitely worth having, they're far superior to anything in their price range.
I can't explain why the price has gone up on Amazon... I paid $19.99 about three weeks ago. (I just double-checked my online invoice to be sure.) They're still better than any headphones I've heard under $75, believe me.
[posted with ecto]
Hi. It feels like January in New York. I don't know what else to tell you.
Actually I do.
• I'm going to try to post something special this Friday. Not quite a Pointcast, but more than just a playlist, it's a bundle of songs inspired by 01.20.09. Let's call it the Obama Sutra.
• Find, Friend me: Search for Tommy Himself on Facebook.
• If you've been reading The Sticking Point long enough, you know I've got issues with the useless, inadequate Forest Hills P.D. Briefly, I live in a neighborhood where drivers race through red lights and stop signs, speed the wrong way down one-way streets, and create a warzone for any pedestrian who ventures past the curb. The local police enforce only those infractions that result in Zero Confrontation: past-due inspection stickers and expired meter parking. When you are lazy, useless, and out-of-shape it is far easier to slip a summons under a windshield wiper than to pull over Live Human Strangers and confront them on their infractions.
Here's a short story. The beginning is true. The ending, however, is creative license -- a writer's embellishment.
Walking back home this morning after some errands, I stopped at a curb and waited for the WALK light. A few feet to my right, a driver approached the intersection and stopped. She had the RED, I got my WALK, and I went. I was a few steps shy of the other curb when I could see in my peripheral vision that the driver began creeping forward and then just pulled right out into the intersection. I turned around and watched her make a left turn against the light... crossing directly in front of a squad car! It took me just five seconds to realized the cops weren't going to do, well, their jobs, so I raised my palms in the air and opened my mouth a bit -- the internationally recognized "What The Fuck?!" gesture. Passenger Cop saw it and we made eye contact. He formed his own "Wuddamye Gonna Do?" expression with fat cheeks and lazy eyes as Driver Cop stepped on the gas and continued their "patrol."
When the cops drove past me I flipped two middle fingers at them. Sure enough, they pull over to address this personal issue. As I'm refusing to show them my identification, I ask them why they thought my fingers were more of a public threat than the car running the red light. While they struggle for a wiseass response I say, "I have no more time to waste with you fucktards, I have to go." Then I give them the fingers again and moonwalk three entire blocks home.
[posted with ecto]
Sorry these have been too few and far between, but here's the first Friday 5ive / Sonic Jihad for 2009. Below, the link to download the Pointcast. Below that, the notes.
The Friday 5ive
01 Gravity - Rilo Kiley: An unknown/forgotten gem from the second pressing of the self-titled CD (Rilo Records 2000), which was a reissue of the first pressing of the self-titled CD released a year earlier. Both are long out-of-print but occasionally detonate on eBay at about $150. The first three RK releases have nearly identical cover art. Known as Self-Titled (first pressing), Self-Titled (second pressing), and The Initial Friend EP are a fanboy's trifecta: hard to find and puzzling to unravel all the song-swapping, track sequencing, and alt versions. The first
pressing has eight songs (The Frug / 85 / Glendora / Papillon / Teenage Love Song / Asshole / Sword / Steve) plus a hidden track RK fanatics call "They Say It Rained The Day Your Mother Gave You Away." This is the only disk on which exists.
Pressing number two adds songs "Always" and "Gravity," subtracts "Steve," has an alternate version of "Teenage Love Song" (with keyboard solo), different track order, and the hidden track here is a 22-minute monster of narcissistic fluff called "Troubadours + The Annoying Noise of Death"
The Initial Friend EP (Rilo Records, 2001) omits "Glendora" and "Teenage Love Song," includes "Troubadours" but deep-sixes the noise of death part. Initial Friend was re-released in 2007 as The Rilo Kiley EP.
All this info is out there on fan sites, with jpegs and whatnot, but oddly Rilo Kiley's official website disregards the 1999-2001 releases (and about a dozen of the band's singles) entirely.
Blake Sennett and Jenny Lewis, 03/16/01: Photo by John Perry
02 I Can't Wait - Luna [Lunapark]: To some it's a supergroup: When they recorded this album, they were hardly a cohesive band. They were just the singer/guitarist from Galaxie 500, the drummer from the Feelies, and the Chills' ex-bassist. Their studio sessions guitarist was from Mercury Rev. If all you know about the Galaxie 500 split is Damon and Naomi's account in the liner notes of the box set, check out Dean's memoir. His side of the breakup seems more valid, in my opinion.
03 Bum Bum - Trio: I ripped this from the German import 45. The English-language version, "Boom Boom" is slightly more well-known, I guess. Or better yet, you probably know "Da Da Da, Ich Lieb Dich Nicht du Liebst Mich Nicht (Aha Aha Aha)," which was a 1982 cult hit in English as "Da Da Da I Don't Love You You Don't Love Me Aha Aha Aha." In 1997, it turned up in TV commercials for -- of course -- German cars.
"Bum Bum" reminds me of driving to Carvel with my high school pal John every Wednesday to get buy-one-get-one-free ice cream sundaes. We'd listen to WLIR on our powerful after-market car stereos and if we were lucky we'd hear something fucking great like this or, say, "Get Out of London" by Intaferon. (Jesus!)
(For a reason that I'll never remember, we referred to the ice cream as "F.B.S." for "fat bastard sundaes." Of course, it was Yonkers, NY, so we pronounced it "fat bas-tidd sundaes.")
04 Love Is Like A Bottle of Gin - The Magnetic Fields [69 Love Songs]: Some of you have written and asked why MagFields/Stephin Merritt popped up on Friday 10s with such regularity, maybe more than any other artist. My answer is always: I don't know. Looking at my iTunes as of this morning, MagFields accounts for 82 out of the 9500+ songs in the library. Not complaining. 69 Love Songs is like a book on how to write songs. Merritt released Distortion last year, it landed at #6 on The Sticking Point's albums of the year.
This song? It's in 21/8 time. Wild.
05 Laughing - R.E.M. [Murmur]: That's the 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Murmur that Brian Last Stop sent me the other day. I A-and-B'd the original CD vs. the new mastering, and the new one wins. That's not always the case with remasters, as you know, but luckily it is here; Murmur is an exceptional album, it deserves a perfect mix. You could tell R.E.M. and producers Mitch Easter and Don Dixon had a Stax-like sound in mind: organic-toned instruments, clean guitars, a heavy drum groove carrying the vocals. Listening back to the original CD release (I.R.S. 70014), the mix sounds watery to me now. The new one polishes all the reverb and atmospherics without sounding digital. Does that make sense? Probably not. Anyway -- thanks, Brian.
"Laughing" was always one of my favorites on Murmur. Love that Stewart Copeland-style rhythm on the rototoms. And back in those days, back in my day, when Stipe unfurled this lyric referencing Laocoön, you can bet the fact-finding fieldwork took me 5000 times longer than it'll take you, today.
The Sonic Jihad
01 Phobias - Love As Laughter [#1 U.S.A.]: From my "If Only They Knew..." iTunes playlist. I found "Phobias" first on a great (GREAT) Rough Trade comp, loved it immediately. Not much on the #1 USA album can hold a candle to this, but still: wow... this. The band is still out and about. Info at loveaslaughter.net.
02 The Perfect Me - Deerhoof [Friend Opportunity]: If I could have, I would have. I would have gotten this song in your ears long ago. I wish I'd started doing these Pointcasts sooner and more often.
Dialogue excerpt from "The Facts of Life."
03 Fresh Cut Dynamite - Squatweiler [New Motherstamper]: Another group (along with Love As Laughter) that some of you probably haven't heard. Worth your hard-earned to get your hands on this one or Horsepower.
04 Moons of Jupiter - Scruffy The Cat [Moons of Jupiter]: One of the all-time great bar bands. Just flat-out and real. I think a dream gig for me would be a night with Scruffy, Del Fuegos, and Too Much Joy on the same bill.
05 Harder Than You Think - Public Enemy [How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul?]: They lost the plot between 1993 and 2006, so I didn't expect much from How You Sell Soul... in 2007. Good to have 'em back. P.E.'s tenth studio album, and they land on it like a ton of bricks. Call it "Son of It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back."
* No Fun - The Stooges [The Stooges]: "Come on, Ronnie..."
Get off your ass and do it for yourself. Put your digital jukebox or mp3 player on "shuffle all songs," and use the comments section to tell us the first 10 tracks out the chute.
[posted with ecto]
The Stooges have released the following statement via IggyPop.com:
We are shocked and shaken by the news of Ron’s death. He was a great friend, brother, musician, trooper. Irreplaceable. He will be missed.
For all that knew him behind the façade of Mr Cool & Quirky, he was a kind-hearted, genuine, warm person who always believed that people meant well even if they did not.
As a musician Ron was The Guitar God, idol to follow and inspire others. That is how he will be remembered by people who had a great pleasure to work with him, learn from him and share good and bad times with him.
Iggy, Scott, Steve, Mike and Crew
I am in shock. He was my best friend.
[posted with ecto]
Top Tracks of 2008
01 You Want the Candy - The Raveonettes (Lust Lust Lust)
02 See Fernando - Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue)
03 Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue)
04 Jack Killed Mom - Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue)
05 The Nun's Litany - The Magnetic Fields (Distortion)
06 Carpetbaggers - Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue)
07 Kiss Me on the Bus (demo) - The Replacements (Tim 2008 remaster)
08 Love Vigilantes - Laura Cantrell (Trains and Boats and Planes)
09 Waitress in the Sky (Outtake) - The Replacements (Tim 2008 remaster)
10 Trying My Best To Love You - Jenny Lewis (Acid Tongue)
On iTunes right now: Die a Little (L) from the album Live at Austin City Limits: Music Festival 2006 by Deadboy & the Elephantmen
[posted with ecto]